Grosse Pointe Park misses deadline to remove controversial blockade at Detroit border

Grosse Pointe Farmer's market_7396

Responding to public outcry over Grosse Pointe Park’s closed-door decision to block off a main road at the border of Detroit this summer, the suburban government’s top officials pledged to remove the controversial barricade by November in a promising agreement with Mayor Mike Duggan.

But today, eight days after the deadline, Grosse Pointe Park has still failed to remove the market’s sheds and reopen the intersection at Alter and Kercheval. Many residents of the affluent suburb are outraged by the community’s dismissive attitude about the Aug. 18 agreement and want the blockade removed immediately.

Under the threat of legal action by the Duggan administration, Mayor Heenan and Mayor Pro Tem Gregory Theokas agreed to move the sheds and reopen Kercheval at Alter.

“This collaborative effort will result in our creating a seamless transition between Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park,” Mayor Pro Tem Theokas said at the time.

Detroit has held up to its end of the deal and began removing abandoned buildings and other blight.

Now a growing number of Grosse Pointe Park residents are calling on the government to tear down the sheds and will let city council members know about it during the regular public meeting tonight at 7 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Municipal Office Complex at 15115 E. Jefferson Ave.

It remains unclear why Grosse Pointe officials have not removed the sheds yet and opened the street because they don’t return calls, and they often keep the public in the dark.

A Freedom of Information Act request reveals the city spent $175,000 on the farmer’s market without ever putting the issue up to a city council vote, as required by the city’s charter.

When Grosse Pointe Park resident Graig Donnelly complained about the process earlier this year during a public meeting, the mayor responded, “You ought to be grateful you live here.”

“They’re not responding to the residents,” Donnelly, who is hoping for a big turnout tonight, told me. “We are going to tell them to tear down the sheds. The sheds are not in the best interest of the people who live and work here.”

Opponents say the sheds represents an ugly time in Grosse Pointe’s history when black people were prevented from buying homes until the 1960s and were regularly prevented from crossing the border by roadblocks and fences. To this day, 10 roads at the border of the disparate cities are still blocked off or obstructed.

Mayor Palmer Heenan, who is 92 and represents the conservative side of the community, has threatened to renege on the agreement with Detroit after facing off with opponents. We revealed in July that a portion of the sheds were built on Detroit property, which would require approval from both cities.

Detroit’s population is about 82% black. Grosse Pointe’s is 85% white, but the number of African Americans moving to the community is on the rise. The Park also is the most progressive of the Pointes communities and even elected President Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Since we exposed Grosse Pointe Park cops for producing and circulating cell phone videos that poked fun at a schizophrenic black man, a diverse group of residents began meeting to look for solutions to decades of racism.

The group, Diverse GP, is holding a public workshop at 2 p.m. Saturday at Salem Church on Moross between I-94 and Mack to discuss ways to improve racial relations in schools, governments and communities.

“We are trying to set a good example of the right way to do things,” Donnelly, a leader of the group, told me.

We are awaiting a response from Detroit’s attorneys on the Park’s failure to meet the deadline to remove the shed.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Guest

    You’re an articulate and educated 40-something journalist and THIS is how you choose to spend you days? Dream bigger, Steve.

  • Steve, let me know if you want to do a Motorcity Muckraker and GP For Life Pointe-Couterpoint on this issue. I will make it rain clicks up in this bitch!

    • Ballsy Terri

      That was one very creepy movie…

      • It was a great book and the movie was phenomenal. If you don’t think that the creepiest part of that movie is how closely it relates to your life, then, you’re lucky. I, my friend, am not so lucky.

        By the way, how cool is it to have a Telex number on your business card? Did you know there are still Telex machines “online”?

  • Ballsy Terri

    This farmers market that the Muckraker calls a “blockade”, seems to be a personal cause for this writer.

    Steve; it’s gotten to the point where I don’t come to the Muckraker site for you to inform me with facts about an issue.
    I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I expect you to misinform
    your readers, and then I look forward to the discussion the commenters have.
    So Steve, you win; you lie and cheat to support you slanted views, AND you get the clicks you need to stay in business.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      I have really come to expect hyperbole, and to be steered and subjected to what I can only assume is personal bias or personal politics.

      Its why he has not written a story on any of the gated places in detroit.

      Its why he did not spend time showing equally poor communities around the state that have dead ends, or equally well off places that have dead ends.

      Some times its as simple as some people want to live on a cul de sac. If the nearest main road, or side road handles the traffic, you can make the area appeal to many people with different types of streets.

      I am not a fan of new mcmansion subdivisions that I cannot drive through, but all of detroit, all the older inner ring burbs have dead ends, cul de sacs, and have changed them for new developments, and undone them for new developments, a new restuarant pops up, or 711 gets tons of traffic. People do not want cars on their street, they make it a dead end. Great. The city listened.

      Why is this racial JUST HERE.

      It has to be because its personal.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    “The group, Diverse GP,
    is holding a public workshop at 2 p.m. Saturday at Salem Church on
    Moross between I-94 and Mack to discuss ways to improve racial relations
    in schools, governments and communities.”

    They could stop being racist and leave GP alone and ask why racist detroit is not fulfilling their end of the agreement. Thats race based right ? Both racist that detroit did not honor it, racist that Diverse GP did not notice, and I think racially motivated on mucks part to slant the article so much.

    Is it racist that vernor going into detroit is one way? You can not enter, isnt that racist ?

    Apparently to many people are too dense to understand the values suggested here.

    First cities have no rights to plot out their streets the way the like, they have to ask bordering communities, its racist.

    Thats great, thats understandable, but why isit applied ONLY to GP ?

    wait for it …. wait for it …. wait for it …. because the people doing this ARE RACIST !

    This is no different than saying stealing is different if its a man or a woman. Lying is one thing is a black does it, different thing if a white person does it. Great. You people are about as sophisticated as a low IQ four year old.

  • bebow

    I’ve considered digging an alligator moat around my property but worry Snowy might poach my toothy defense forces for new shoes. Now, I’m researching indestructible forms of tall fencing, perhaps with razor wire trim, to enclose everything from sidewalk to alleyway but must wait for demolition and side lot purchases before acting. Unfortunately, that is what it’s going to take to stay in Detroit. Maybe I’ll leave instead.

    • This comment needs many more up-votes.

      Good idea with the moat, but I am not sure reptiles are a good move. They don’t perform well in winter, at all.

      Bears? Bears on the other hand have a proven record of performance, namely in Czechoslovakia.

      Let me know if you need help digging it.

  • Dutchman43

    Haters gotta hate!

  • cielo2013

    You know this picture is??? A picture of a road that leads in to Palmer Park in Detroit. So… Detroiters keeping out Detroiters!!! Steve – why don’t you write an article about this travesty?!?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      off jefferson at dickerson connor area there are places with TWO gates, with a gate attendant. The only other place I can think of on a public road with a guard house is provencal in GPF which has a number of people that are billionaires, and everyone is worth 30-50 million bucks etc.

      So who are the blacks in detroit trying to keep out?

      Does it matter, steve has already suggested gates and dead ends etc are inherently racist.

      • “The only other place I can think of on a public road with a guard house is provencal in GPF…”

        Provencal is a private road. The residents pay for the upkeep of the road and the guard.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Even better. is just a road gate, anyone could run across the golf course, not like the actual high gated communities in detroit surrounded by a wall.

  • MickinDetroit

    So I must have missed the part where Detroit removed the blighted structures it was supposed to as part of the deal. But of course a headline of “Detroit fails to remove blight” would basically be like reporting on the sun rising.

    • javierjuanmanuel


  • maggiemay

    Detroit didn’t fufill their part of the agreement therefore GPP is under no obligation to fufill theirs. Also, I was just in Palmer Woods and since I’d been there 2 yrs. ago more than half the streets have been blocked, restricting access to Woodward and 7 Mile. How come Detroit can do the exact same thing and no one complains about it? Stop carping on this, it’s old news and no one really cares.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      there are many dead ends in detroit and all over the metro area. Their are dead ends in completely homogeneous areas and no one complains.

      This is all fake. They brought up Gp past, news flash, pre 60s lots of places in detroit blacks could not live anywhere they wanted. I have seen East english village sales agreements FROM THE CITY, post civil rights era, like say 1974, 1981, where it was redacted with a thin line that you were not to sell to a non honorable non white person, and they used a form or negro or negroid for black people.

      I guess if enough black move in, it sanitizes the past. If GPP gets to say 30% black, maybe it can achieve that status, then they can pick on surrounding communities and tell the other communities how terrible they are.

      That sounds fun.

      • maggiemay

        I don’t see GP picking on surrounding cities. I see them trying to keep their city safe from encroaching crime. And let’s be honest, the crime is coming from Detroit.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Correct. I was suggesting that when GP reaches some magical number of blacks, all past sins are washed away, you get in the cool club, you no longer have to be logical and do what you say.

          You can pile on neighbor towns and make them do things for you, call them names, demean them, slander them, be a bigot, and pat your self on the back and suggest you are the morally superior one. Calling the next town racist for building a bridge, call them racist for building a school, call them racist for knocking an warehouse down, who cares, even good things can become racist. You get more power the more you hurl !

          I was saying if I never move, the logical conclusion is I will be able to do this some day. Not far off, 10-20 years max.

  • marco baroli

    Kercheval south of Alter is very dangerous and blighted. Cul de sac every street IMHO.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Not a bad idea, all the major multi lane business roads going north south would be open, mach, kerveval, jefferson. Just make and jefferson can easily handle 80,000 cars each day with not allot of traffic, I have seen traffic studies on a number of the roads here on the east side. There is not 160-200k detroiters who need or even want to drive through GP and go to GP or st. clair shores, harrison township etc.

      It would in reality effect almost no one. Many GP folks used to shop over on east warren, mack, morang, whittier, 7 mile, hayes all over detroit, all the stores are gone. You can drive through, but there is only gas stations, nail salons, weave stores, nail shops, store front churches, used car dealers. It would not effect hardly anyone, and those people would have to drive just a fraction of a mile out of their old route.

      There is no good reason to not do this.

  • SuperG

    Steve, you new-arrival suburban hipster. Unlike you, I actually was born and raised IN Detroit, downtown, yes. And went through school there, AND moved back there after college at U of M. So nice of you being a suburban transplant to now “champion” the City of Detroit. I ended up buying a house in Grosse Pointe Park as have two of my siblings. I can tell you that I haven’t met ANYONE in the Park or in the other Pointes who wants to take the sheds down. Maybe these are a couple of your hipster friends from Rochester? The Park Market is a great area now, and ANYONE is welcome, including our brothers from the City. The fact is that the surrounding area on the Detroit side is worse than a war zone, and it is only getting more run down each year, AND Detroit HAS NOT lived up to its part of the bargain to remove the blight — contrary to your unsupported claim in your hack article. Go back to Rochester.

    • Justicefor JereanBlake

      SuperG – do you realize that Steve’s hipster white guilt friends at Diverse GP are planning to storm your city council meeting tonight at 7pm to demand the sheds be taken down??? You might want to make the same post you made above on their facebook page and show up at your city council meeting tonight or your city leaders may get bullied by them.

    • CakeinBedWithYou

      Anyone is welcome my ASS.

  • Justicefor JereanBlake

    Craig Donnelly isn’t going to hear back from Detroit’s attorneys. I clerk for Hollowell. The agreement was for Detroit to remove all blight along Alter and then GPP would take down their sheds. Since Detroit hasn’t removed any buildings/houses yet, there is no way for our legal team to enforce the agreement signed by both mayors. I posted this same thing on the Diverse GP FB page but they erased it and blocked me from their FB page. I assume it was because I am black and do not live in GP, so not really sure how DIVERSE they are??? Maybe they just mean diverse from ‘medium white’ to ‘light white’? I would like to see the sheds torn down as well but don’t see how that will happen if Detroit doesn’t do it’s part.

    • maggiemay

      I think you’d be surprised at how diverse GPP is, don’t judge unless you know. I hope the sheds stay up. The Alter side is a crime ridden ghetto with drugs openly sold on the street. I wish they’d cul de sac all streets leading into Detroit, all the borders are dangerous and the crime is bleeding into the Grosse Pointes.

      • Justicefor JereanBlake

        Maggiemay – you misunderstood. I know GPP is a diverse community – I meant Diverse GP Facebook page. A Facebook group that is hell bent on taking down the sheds to cure their white guilt but blocked the black guy from their lilly white FB page when I told them the above info. Go voice your opinion on their page, they might keep it posted if you are white.

        • maggiemay

          I don’t know what FB page you’re talking about.

          • cielo2013

            maggie I went on facebook and typed in ‘Diverse GP’ and the page popped up immediately. i think that is what he is talking about. It appears to be a group of socialists hiding behind ‘diversity’

          • maggiemay

            Yeah, I found it. They should call it GP Divisiveness.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            diverse does not even mean diverse anymore it means non white.

            For example 88% black detroit is diverse, but 88% GP or livonia is not diverse.

            They do not know what their favorite words mean, they are code words, like community. Community does not mean community, it means black people also.

        • maggiemay

          You have to use your name to post. Try that.

        • You were very clear to me, man. As was the agreement signed by both parties. Blight goes, then the sheds go.

          I don’t know what buildings Steve was referring to, but I still see plenty of blighted buildings in the area outline in the agreement.

          I don’t think Diverse GP has a problem with your skin color. It is probably more to do with you correcting them in their misconceptions and misunderstanding of a pretty simple document. Elitist don’t like to be corrected, especially when they’re wrong.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            its that he is black and not a kill whitey, black panther black dude, NOI black dude etc.

            Hell me might even vote for someone that is fiscally conservative, or white, or even a mainstream republican once or twice.

            Nothing the left hates more than a black or a female that is not fully locked arms with them to hate on whites, in particular upper middle class, upper class, the businesses christians and conservatives.

            It makes them boil over with hate and rage.

            He is a black guy who willingly chose to live in GP, likes it there, and wants to see the detroit side cleaned up.

            diverse gp, hates gp, detroit can do no wrong, its full of poor black democrats.

          • Justicefor JereanBlake

            Ha! You are 1000% correct sir. I know they didn’t block me because of skin color. They didn’t have an intelligent response to my post so they pulled out some bullshit rule about having to use your real name. I could see enforcing that rule if someone just made up a FB name to post outrageous stuff on their page but I have 395 friends, posted very respectful post (same as above) and never wrote anything derogatory about anyone. First, I was attacked by some crazy Beyotch (and she is black) and then they erased my posts and blocked me. Guess they figured they couldn’t match wits with me 🙂

          • All this lamentation about some stupid sheds. No one is complaining when Palmer Park erected straight up barricades, but if white people do it, God have mercy. Oh, by the way, it’s not like Detroiters don’t benefit from having a farmer’s market they can walk to!

            What makes this even more infuriating is that I hate those stupid sheds. Where the hell do they think we live? Berkley? If you’re going to build crap like that, do it out of brick and use an architect, not some pre-fab crap from Home Depot.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            that would be the best complaint, its not ugly, it is functional, i just think they over paid and under delivered in terms of asthetics its lacking. It could be wood, but not like that, you nailed it, its too much prefab home depot.

            There are all sorts of modular sheds and garages and cabins on the net. You can easily find off the shelf, factory made that looks older, more hand made, more detail, more vintage and it would not require hiring a architect.

            Seems like 30 grand in cement, and those are home depot sheds 4 times 3-4 grand each plus delivery. I have no idea how this cost 175k that should be the focus of the outrage.

          • MickinDetroit

            From what i understood about the original plan… the pre-fab nature is the point as they were not meant to be permanent/year round.

          • CakeinBedWithYou

            What’s it like being a good for nothing troll? Does your Mother know she raised an idiot? Seriously, what is your motivation here?

          • I am an idiot? That’s an interesting point of view.

            Why don’t you take a look at some of my other work:

            A lot of trolls submit data from the FBI to substantiate their points.

            My mother was proud of me till the day she died, and I am sure she still is. However, I think she’s bias.

            Since my point about the comparative magnitude of outcry over Palmer Park, an affluent area inside Detroit, erecting barricades to even foot traffic is idiotic, it should be easy to refute. Please sway my opinion. I am sure someone who so much more intelligent than me can easily do so.

        • CakeinBedWithYou

          A smattering of non-whites does Not make GP a “diverse community”. It’s Lily White.

          • Justicefor JereanBlake

            I said GPP, not GP as a whole. Breakdown by cities %white / % black… GPP 83/12, Detroit 9/80, Birmingham 88/2, Bloomfield 87/2, Troy 92/1, Warren 94/1. So – Grosse Pointe Park is exactly as diverse as Detroit and FAR better ratio than any other ‘well to do’ city. I have friends that live there. Her daughter’s 1st grade class at the local public school is like the United Nations. 11 blacks, 2 indians, 1 asian, 1 jew, an arab muslim, a christian arab and 7 lilly white kids.

          • maggiemay

            Being 88% black does not make Detroit diverse.

      • “I wish they’d cul de sac all streets leading into Detroit, all the borders are dangerous and the crime is bleeding into the Grosse Pointes.”

        You’re right that the crime is bleeding into Grosse Pointe, but it’s bleeding in at a slower pace.

        • maggiemay

          Don’t know if I agree with your data. City Data and Trulia show different statistics. The fact is, the Grosse Pointes that share a border with Detroit or Harper Woods have a much higher crime rate than Grosse Pointe Shores that doesn’t share a border. This speaks for itself.

          • It’s not my data, it’s the FBI’s data, which I now realize that I didn’t cite.

            Another really important fact that people miss when they’re looking at the long term crime data in GP is the population density of area bordering GP. I showed data going back to 1985. In 1985 there were 57 violent crimes reported in GPP, while in 2010 there were 18. Now consider the population decrease for Morningside, East English Village, and the other side of Alter from 1985 to 2010. As that population density decreased, so did the amount of violent crime.

            I have this argument a lot with those firmly supplanted in the bubble. The basic view is since the area looks worse around GP, there’s now more crime in GP. I think the data disproves this.

    • Dutchman43

      Wow, quite an assumption by you Jerean. I find it amusing that you cry foul on a racial basis that your participation was blocked, yet you make the same leap of judgement on someone else who may not be white. Time to get the chip off your shoulder and join the human race!

      • javierjuanmanuel

        the same leap of judgement would be he got them banned. He has a chip because a group that likes to use words like diverse as subterfuge for self loathing white spoiled kids (who also will tell you they are better than the non self loathing whites … so they are not love everyone folks either, that escaped you … I assume because you also agree with them !)

        They banned a black dude who was not full on kill whitey, white areas are inherently racist, all whites who are not socialist democrats are racist, etc etc. If you are not on board with them, you are no use to them, so they say Eff off.

      • I think you need to take your sarcasm detector into the shop and have it recalibrated.

  • Ballsy Terri

    “A growing number of GPP residents”?
    So know there’s more than the one guy you find to get a quote from?

  • Michael

    Detroit should just file suit for an outrageous amount of money. Once the issue ends up in the courts the GP officials will feel the heat. I’m sure they don’t want it fully exposed that they spent $175k w/o following the correct procedures.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      what damages have they incurred ?

      How about all areas that border detroit sue detroit for having to see the blight, maybe 10-15 communities can each sue for maybe 100-200 million dollars each.

      Sounds fair, right ?

      Detroit will lose, their is damages from looking at the trash, it drives down property values, then detroit can be crushed under 2-3 billion plus in loses.

      Oh wait, you wanted to just make people you do not like pay for things they did not do, that hurt no one.

      Having the farmers market a couple hundred yards from your home in detroit IMPROVES property value, you can get inexpensive fresh food in walking distance.

      Have you not heard of detroit being a fresh food desert, with vast expanses of just quickeemarts, gas stations, fast food and thats it?

      This fixes that problem for anyone in a mile or two walk.

      Yet you want it to be bad for this one instance.

      HMMM it almost seems as if you think the white people make fresh food bad, maybe you are the racist.

      If there was a market 3/4 mile the other side of alter, and they dead ended kercheval you would love it, thats a fact.

    • Dude, the $175k is the least of Parker Heenan’s worries. His primary worry is dementia and keeling over at any second. Followed closely by all the other shady things he has done.

  • Harry Palmer

    Not surprising. Maybe time for the Park to elect a new administration.